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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, born in 1934, is a psychology professor, the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago. He is noted for his work in the study of happiness, creativity, subjective well-being, and fun, but is best known as the architect of the notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic. He is the author of many books and over 120 articles or book chapters. He is one of the most widely cited psychologists today, in a variety of fields related to psychology and business.


He took his B.A., at the University of Chicago in 1960 and gained his Ph.D., there in 1965


Main article: Flow (psychology)
AnxietyArousalFlow (psychology)OverlearningRelaxation (psychology)BoredomApathyWorry
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Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level. Clickable.[1]

In his seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihalyi outlines his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow--a Zen-like state of total oneness with the activity at hand and the situation (see Flow (psychology)). The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great freedom, enjoyment, fulfillment, and skill--and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.

To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur.

Also, the flow state also implies a kind of focused attention, and indeed, it has been noted that mindfulness meditation, yoga, and martial arts seem to improve a person's capacity for flow. Among other benefits, all of these activities train and improve attention.

In short; flow could be described as a state where attention, motivation, and the situation meet, resulting in a kind of productive harmony or feedback.

He is currently working with Howard Gardener and William Damon on the GoodWork Project

See also



  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-87589-261-2
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1978) Intrinsic Rewards and Emergent Motivation in The Hidden Costs of Reward : New Perspectives on the Psychology of Human Motivation eds Lepper, Mark R;Greene, David, Erlbaum: Hillsdale: NY 205-216
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly and Csikszentmihalyi, Isabella Selega, eds. (1988). Optimal Experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-34288-0
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-092043-2
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1994). "The Evolving Self", New York: Harper Perennial . ISBN 0060921927
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996). Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-092820-4
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02411-4 (a popular exposition emphasizing technique)
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2003).Good Business: Flow, Leadership and the Making of Meaning", New York: Viking,
  • Gardner, Howard, Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, and Damon, William (2002). Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet. New York, Basic Books.
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996). Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0060928204
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1993).The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millenium, New York, Harper Collins,

External links

de:Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ru:Чиксентмихайи, Михай fi:Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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  1. Csikszentmihalyi, M., Finding Flow, 1997.